Sean Gregan's exclusive column

Simon Grayson will have been very pleased with Preston North End's attitude and character in coming back from being behind to get a draw against Aston Villa.

Sunday, 22nd January 2017, 2:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 22nd January 2017, 3:12 pm
Jordan Hugill scores the first goal against Aston Villa

Being 2-0 down anywhere is difficult to recover from but especially so at Villa Park in front of a crowd of more than 32,000 – Villa a side yet to be beaten at home this season.

I played a few times at Villa Park for West Bromwich Albion – which was something of a local derby – and always enjoyed it.

Villa Park is a traditional ground with loads of character, it generating a good atmosphere.

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The man of the moment was Jordan Hugill, a player who is doing really well this season.

He scored two different kinds of goal against Villa, a great solo run and finish for the first and then a typical centre-forward’s header to bring North End level.

I like what the lad is all about, he seems to want to make the best of this chance he had got at Preston – it was not too long ago that he was playing non-league football.

Hugill is a Middlesbrough lad – like me – and I have always said that you will get 100% from northern lads, it is almost ingrained in you.

If he keeps working hard and listening to the staff, I think Hugill can develop much more as a player.

It is not too much of a surprise that there has been a bit of interest in him because he works hard and has started to score goals.

What has been good to see at North End is how the team have done since the Arsenal game.

It would have been easy after that game to have a bit of a comedown and not quite reached the standards they had reached when pushing the Gunners all the way.

Yet PNE have beaten Brighton who were the league leaders and then gone to Villa and brought back a point, albeit after a shaky first-half display.

I’m sure that Grayson, Steve Thompson and Glynn Snodin would have been on at the players ever since the Arsenal game, making sure their focus is on the league and pointing out what can be achieved.

On the transfer front, North End are one of the clubs in for Robbie Keane and what a signing that would be.

Keane has beenthere, done it, bought the T-shirt, having played hundreds of games at the top level.

He is a very clever player, not particularly one who will go right against the last defender – he will go in between the lines, create space that way and hurt teams.

At the age of 36, Keane is not the youngest but he is still fit as a fiddle.

Lightning pace was never part of his game so it is not as if you can say that his legs have gone.

Just think how much benefit someone like Hugill would get from playing and training alongside Keane.

A player like him would be fully respected in the dressing room.